Audit shows Southwest Corridor light rail project was hit with the unexpected, leading to higher costs and delays

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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The Southwest Light Rail project has ballooned to $2.75 billion.

Results of an audit report on Metro’s Southwest Corridor light rail project connecting downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie and other areas show a major oversight and a major amount of money that is missing.

In an interview on MPR news, Minnesota Legislative Auditor Judy Randall explained why the project is now $1.5 billion over budget and years behind schedule.

Randall said the main factor was the existence of freight railroad in the corridor. Metro Council assumed that freight would be removed from the right-of-way thanks to another project, so nothing was put into the initial design and cost dealing with freight railroad. The Federal Transit Administration, however, later notified Metro Council that the agency would be responsible for the freight service, so a new design had to be drawn up. That new design kept freight rail in play and added a tunnel through the Kenilworth Corridor, which is where crews have come across construction issues.

Randall also said Metro Council still has no funding source for $500 million worth of the project.

“[Metro Council agrees] that they have not yet identified a source for that $500 million,” said Randall. “I think that is one of the key issues that the state and the legislature are going to have to grapple with in the coming year.”

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